More than 50,000 children are victims of child abuse and neglect​ in Florida each year, according to Children’s Healing Institute. Even more tragic: at least five children die​ every day as a result of child abuse.​​​​ And premature infants are three times more likely​ to be abused than full term babies.

Why does this happen?

Here’s one big reason: countless families in our community are faced with the challenges of inadequate medical care or assistance, limited education, under-developed coping skills, financial hardship, poor health, lack of social support, and insufficient knowledge about how best to care for their children. So when there’s a sudden change in family dynamic or circumstances, or when there’s limited internal or external resources available in the home, the safety, health and well-being of children can easily be compromised.

April is Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month – a time when communities across the nation are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention.

In Palm Beach County, we are united to fight back against child abuse and neglect through education and prevention services.

Much of that work is done through the Palm Beach County Unites for Children, a collaboration of passionate child advocates and the agencies they work with to bring awareness about child abuse prevention and the needs of those who are already involved in state care. All 10 of our BRIDGES sites are part of the coalition and offer information and resources available to the entire community. Learn more here: www.pbcunites.org.

One of the most important resources available is a hotline where parents can get help 24/7 in a crisis or potential crisis. CALL 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. Communication in 170 languages is available through state-of-the-art technology that allows three-way conversations between the hotline counselor, the caller, and a professional translator. NOTE: This is NOT where you report abuse.

Learn more here: www.childhelp.org/hotline/resources-parents.

In April, we are encouraging Blue Wednesdays where staff of agencies and members of the community wear blue to bring attention to Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month. Please wear blue on the following days:

  • Wednesday April 5th
  • Wednesday April 12th
  • Wednesday April 19th
  • Wednesday April 26th

The good news is that there’s a lot of information available on this issue. Get involved by first learning about the safety and welfare of children. Here’s some agencies on the forefront of reducing child abuse and neglect:

The National Exchange Club Foundation – www.preventchildabuse.com
National Alliance for Grieving Children – www.childrengrieve.org
March of Dimes – www.marchofdimes.com

Once again, please be sure to visit the website of Palm Beach County Unites for Children, where you’ll find out about everything done locally to prevent child abuse and neglect.

And always keep in mind: All children deserve a safe, loving home, to be happy and healthy — to thrive, not just survive.

(Photo credit: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)